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How do I move on? Am I ready?
November 19, 2010 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Exactly one week ago I broke up with my boyfriend who I loved because I felt like things were unhealthy and he wasn't treating me right. Even though my brain tells me I did the 'right' thing, my heart and body are suffering. How do I reconcile what I know with how I feel?

I've been reading a lot of old AskMe's and although there are lots of people who claimed to have broken up (or want to break up with) someone they love, they don't seem the same as mine. In all those cases, it sounded more like "i love you but i'm not IN love with you anymore and although i don't want to hurt you, i want to move on." i broke up with someone i am still fully IN love with and did not want to be broken up with. But it seemed like the issues we had weren't getting better and when I expressed interest in trying to improve things, he didn't seem to agree that there was a problem. For me, the biggest problem was the way he acted when we would get in a disagreement. I desperately wanted us to just be able to talk calmly and have a productive discussion about whatever was going on. He had a tendency toward defensiveness and what would start out as a small thing would escalate into a high level of anger on his end. He would say things that were mean and later take them back and say he didn't mean it and was just angry. He never seemed to understand that asking for forgiveness after saying something mean didn't erase it- i did forgive him all the time, but a lot of that negative stuff built up in me and it hurts. also, i tried to be forgiving because i am convinced he is depressed and dealing with quite a lot of shit on his own plate- but he's been resistant to my suggestions that he needs to talk to a doctor or therapist. actually in general i think he has a negative attitude towards a lot of things in his life- that was another reason for me, I was worried about our future together with that sort of attitude. but i also let it go a lot because i thought it was stemming from his depression and that somehow, at some point, he would seek treatment and things would improve. (clearly did not happen.)

the thing about all that though is that it didn't necessarily happen on a regular basis. on a day to day level things were pretty normal. and like i said- i'm totally in love with him. i don't know how or why but despite all the bad things and anger and negativity i still love him and it kills me. being in love with someone who lashes out at you (never physically though) even occasionally, is incredibly painful.

Of course, now that I've actually broken up with him and made him move out (which was awful) he wants to fix things, he still loves me, i'm the best thing he had, he's so sorry, etc etc. we haven't talked face to face because I don't think I could control my emotional reaction if I saw him. I'd want to fall right into his arms and say "lets make this work." i'd want to believe all his promises to change even though he has promised it before and not followed through. we've been texting in small bursts here and there and i explained that while i do love him, the situation was too painful and i thought he needed some time on his own to sort through his issues and deal with the anger and depression. i can't stop dwelling on this fantasy where he decides that losing me is the worst thing ever, and he suddenly overcomes all his problems and comes back to me and wants to make things work. i try NOT to think about that, because there's a good chance it'll never happen, and even if it did happen it might still be a bad idea to go down that road. i just don't know. it's been a week and i can't think clearly at all, i sleep and cry and feel like shit and miss him like crazy and my whole being is screaming at me that i made a mistake even though- like i said, in my brain, i think i did the right thing. oh, and i also dwell on this idea that maybe we could still see each other and be a couple while living apart, while we 'fix' things, but . . . that sounds crazy right? i just think rushing into living together was harder on him than on me. FWIW- we're both 27. I've had serious relationships before and lived with people before. He's had some relationships but nothing too serious and never lived with anybody. I definitely feel like this is the first time either of us has been in love and our bond is strong. So . . . where the hell do i go from here?

I oscillate back and forth between thinking "just move on and you'll find someone better" (but then I feel sickened by the idea of being with a guy who isn't him) and "things will work out this is just a rough patch" (but that seems like dangerous thinking too, i mean, obviously this relationship is not healthy, is it?) i'm really confused and sad. I am sorry to be posting a question about this, I tried to resist the urge but I really feel lost in this moment and I need some help.

thanks so much. also, if tough love is in order that's fine but please be gentle on me. i already feel pretty low and horrible. i've been having a difficult time eating/sleeping/going anywhere so i feel pretty wrecked after 7 days of this.
posted by lblair to Human Relations (42 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
oh and we've been together for close to 3 years. i forgot to include that. we've broken up a couple times but gotten back together- once after a week, once after only a day or two- when i took him back based on promises to change and that things would be different.
posted by lblair at 8:30 AM on November 19, 2010


Time, time, time, time, time.

You are pretty young, still, and it's only been 7 days. Take one day at a time. Go out with your friends. Have a nice family Thanksgiving. Be proud of yourself for making a good decision for yourself.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:31 AM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


oh and another issue i am having is that, i suspect that i've been in a dysfunctional relationship for so long, it's extraordinarily difficult for me to accept the fact that normal relationships exist. i want a guy who loves me, isnt afraid to say so, does nice things, respects my opinion, works through issues with me in a calm and rational way. and then i laugh and feel bitter and think i'm holding out hope for the impossible. please set me straight.
posted by lblair at 8:35 AM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


. . . also im still living in the apartment we shared and i think that's fucking with me too. i spent several days couch surfing at my friends places but i missed having a bed and having my dog so i came back. my lease isnt up til april. i rearranged all my furniture and bought a new bed but it hasnt arrived yet.
posted by lblair at 8:38 AM on November 19, 2010


+1 Time.

You did the right thing. Props to you for moving away from someone who doesn't treat you with respect or courtesy. In a year or two you'll look back and think this was probably one of the best decisions you've ever made for yourself. Be strong, girl, let yourself go through the grief process. Unfortunately for a broken heart the only way around is "through".
posted by red_lotus at 8:42 AM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


You need to give yourself time for the dust to settle.

And while I think you were right to make the guy move out, it seems to me that maybe there is potential for things to be fixed. First of all, you absolutely can live apart and still be a couple and work on your issues if that's what you both want. Second, I think he will not suddenly overcome his problems, because people don't do that, but if you see serious effort and commitment to change and progress on his part, your relationship might have legs. So, figure out what you need from him. You think he needs treatment for his depression. You want the two of you to learn to talk through disagreements calmly and reasonably without it turning into a nasty fight. Okay, so you tell the guy that this is what you want. If he agrees to do it and follows through (.i.e. gets treatment and agrees to ground rules for your discussions), you may have something, but don't rush into getting back together and then into living together again. Take your time, make sure you really trust him and things have been stable for awhile before you move on to the next level with him.

If he won't agree to these changes, or if he does agree and then doesn't follow through, the relationship is over and you just need to give yourself time to let it go. In that case, be kind to yourself, listen to your brain rather than to your other body parts, and live your life.

And just remember, you're going to get a good outcome out of this. Either things work out and you get back together, or they won't and it'll be hard for awhile but life will go on and you'll meet new people and do new things that will matter just as much as this guy ever did.
posted by orange swan at 8:43 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Give yourself more time. It's been 7 days. That's not nearly enough, unless you've only been together for a week. I heard somewhere it takes as much time as half the length of the relationship to get over the relationship.

Right now, just let yourself feel what you feel and spend as little time as possible around things that bring up memories of him. And cut off all contact. No more texting or anything like that. Certainly no voice calls.

Mostly, just give yourself time. It's pretty much the only thing that works.
posted by Solomon at 8:43 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Industry cures melancholy. Meaning, distract yourself. Find something new to do that has nothing to with your ex. Take a class, make something, learn something, keep busy. Hide the mementos, photos, gifts etc. someplace inconvenient, so you can't look at them easily. Listen to different music, watch new DVDs. Do very nice things for yourself, and breathe. It takes time, and you have to trust yourself.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:50 AM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


"just move on and you'll find someone better"

Keep telling yourself this. It's true. I recently broke up with someone I was with for 3 years, and it took me at least 3 months before I realized that I had done the right thing. There are people out there who won't treat you like crap. Do not feel sorry for this guy. It's easy to overlook the bad things and focus on the good, but this will just keep you in a vicious cycle. Once you realize that you shouldn't have to put up with the bad stuff at all, it will set you free to find someone you are more compatible with.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 8:54 AM on November 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


You need to stop talking to him. At all.

No calls. No texts. No email. Nothing. Set your email to mark anything from him as spam. If there's a way to block his number on your phone, do so.

You gave him plenty of time and multiple chances to deal with his problems. You told him what you needed from him, and he didn't take you or himself seriously enough to get his shit together. Even if he does get into therapy, even if he does look like he's straightening himself out (and really, you shouldn't know about that anyway because you shouldn't be talking to him) that would not be sufficient reason to "take him back." People who only address their problems when you use a nuclear option (like breaking up with them) are not good people to have in your life.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:54 AM on November 19, 2010 [12 favorites]


Nthing time. This is the best opportunity for you to assess what you want/need in a relationship. Its going to hurt, its going to suck. Its best to just go through the emotions and feel sad. Mourn over the loss of your ex. Get out and do things with friends to take your mind off of the situation. I also recommend sad music and booze.
This may be the best opportunity for your ex to deal with his issues and depression. Perhaps in the future you may get back together, but if you needs are not being met this is for the best.
posted by handbanana at 8:54 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You did the right thing. How you're feeling right now, 7 days after the fact, is completely normal. It isn't an indicator that you made a mistake. Good on you for being strong enough to break things off with him.

I'd suggest you cut off all contact with him for awhile. The texting will not make it easier.

Ask your friends for help with getting through this. If you have friends that can't be arsed to do so (like mine were/are), then what Ideefixe said about industry.

For emphasis, and in short: you did the right thing. It'll slowly get better. Hang in there.
posted by nihraguk at 8:58 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Time + keep busy. A friend of mine recently lost her husband and the overwhelming response to a loss was to keep busy. Time takes care of itself. You must take care of the keeping busy part.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:59 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You need to stop talking to him. At all.

No calls. No texts. No email. Nothing. Set your email to mark anything from him as spam. If there's a way to block his number on your phone, do so.


I agree with this, and I'll add that what you need is not just time, but also space. People who are dumped always want to stay friends. It's usually because they didn't see it coming, they thought everything was fine, and they want things to continue as they were. It's your responsibility, as the dumper, to say no and to begin to carve out space between the two of you. Otherwise, you'll fall right back into your old patterns, but with a new, unhealthy power dynamic.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:12 AM on November 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


Just... give it time. I know how much it sucks to hear such a stupidly simple thing, but believe me, a lot of us here have been in that post-relationship "Holy shit I will never be happy again" place, just curled up on a hardwood floor crying for like 7 hours each night when we should be sleeping, just UTTERLY miserable and COMPLETELY convinced our lives our RUINED. And then... time passes. A lot of time. And slowly, we got better. You will too.

For what it's worth, based on your question, I think the breakup was a REALLY good idea for your long-term emotional health. I know it hurts, but I believe you did the right thing. And I second Narrative Priorities's suggestion to cease contact completely.

Also, new haircut!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:17 AM on November 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


i want a guy who loves me, isnt afraid to say so, does nice things, respects my opinion, works through issues with me in a calm and rational way. and then i laugh and feel bitter and think i'm holding out hope for the impossible. please set me straight.

That isn't at all impossible. It exists, and is something you deserve.

He might be a great guy in every other way, but if he isn't able to work through disagreements with you in a calm and productive way that would be a big red flag for me. There are tools and skills you pick up in relationships, and one of them is knowing how to work through issues with out getting hostile. It sounds like he isn't there yet. Maybe in time he could be, but I wouldn't wait around for it. If it hasn't happened in the 3 years you were together, and he's resistant to working on it, I think he's given you his answer. He doesn't want to work on it. You always deserve someone who is willing to work on it.

You did the right thing. It'll get better. Take this as an opportunity to start something new: a hobby, exercise regime, journaling, photography, drawing, etc. Do something that makes you feel more like you.
posted by fontophilic at 9:19 AM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Try thinking about the situation as though your part were the part of your dearest friend, or a beloved family member. Would you want this partnership for someone you care about? Or would you be relieved that your friend had finally ended the relationship?


The standards you've outlined for a relationship -- respect and assertive love -- are reasonable and essential. It is totally normal to want and expect this in a relationship.

Give yourself time.
posted by endless_forms at 9:27 AM on November 19, 2010


i also dwell on this idea that maybe we could still see each other and be a couple while living apart, while we 'fix' things, but . . . that sounds crazy right?

Right. This is a slippery slope. It puts the burden on you to constantly draw boundaries, and it allows him back into your life before he's proved that he's capable of changing.

You're already doing exactly the right thing by recognizing that you deserve to be in a healthy, respectful relationship. Stick with it! No contact! Months from now, if you still want to fix things, you'll have your chance.
posted by pluot at 9:28 AM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Living well is the best revenge. Spoil yourself, celebrate your new freedom. See this for the new beginning it is.
posted by Dragonness at 9:29 AM on November 19, 2010


Accept the fact that you are going to feel awful and lonely and scared. That doesn't mean that you've made the wrong decision. Change is hard. It's much easier to go with what's comfortable and familiar. But I guarantee that if you spend a couple more years with this guy, you're not going to be totally in love with him anymore (or want to have sex with him). Negativity and defensiveness and mean comments will wear you down and become less attractive as the years go by, even if right now he's a great guy five days out of the week.

When my relationship ended (after seven years) I felt like I would never stop crying. But I did. I also felt sick when I thought of being with another guy. That also faded (and I've been with guys who were more attractive, more attentive, and just all around better than my ex). I also wish I had gotten out sooner, because I wasted a lot of my time with someone who, in the end, didn't give a shit about our relationship. Right now, you feel like you'll never meet someone else who will share your sense of humor, or your desire to build a log cabin in the woods, or your love of historical comics or whatever. But you will.

i'd want to believe all his promises to change even though he has promised it before and not followed through.
This is very important. He hasn't changed. He didn't make an effort. Think about this: If he had come to you with a problem and asked you to make some changes that would improve and strengthen your relationship, would you do it? I'm betting you would. So what does that say about him? Of course he's going to vow to change now, because you finally got sick of his shit and kicked him out. And yeah, you probably were the best thing you had, but he doesn't sound like the best thing for you.
posted by lucysparrow at 9:30 AM on November 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


* ...the best thing he had
posted by lucysparrow at 9:32 AM on November 19, 2010


Cut off communication with him until you feel stronger and are no longer in love with him. You don't need to communicate with him after that unless you want to, you don't owe him anything.
I broke up with an emotionally and verbally abusive ex, but talked to him too soon and he talked me into taking him back, which only prolonged my misery for another 6-8 months, when I broke up with him for good.
posted by Logic Sheep at 10:01 AM on November 19, 2010


I was you about six month ago. I cried for about five days after breaking up with a boy that I was deeply in love with, but I knew who didn't give a shit about making our relationship work. I put a lot of time and effort into showing him how much I cared. I made plans to visit him out in CA - we were living in Minnesota at the time and he was going out there for school - while saving up in order to fly out there as frequently as possible. When I finally realized that no matter how much I tried to show him "hey, i love you!", it wasn't going to change his mind, I knew I had a hard decision to make.

There were signs that indicated to me I should have broken it off earlier - he left me to deal with a dead car battery alone in the middle of winter since I couldn't give him a ride to work, he never supported me in the new activities I wanted to try - but when I thought about breaking it off, my heart felt like it was seizing in protest. My stomach felt like it was full of acid and I wanted to vomit. The thought of being alone without him was more terrifying than realizing that my boyfriend was not the most helpful or caring of people. I hated this thought, but I loved him to the point where I convinced myself I could live with this unequal relationship.

That was the problem. I wouldn't really be alone, I just wouldn't have a boyfriend. That in itself was frightening - Who would want me and how could I find another guy like him? - but I had ignored my friends to be with my boyfriend, and I was terrified they would snub me in return. But when I finally broke it off, my friends where still there for me. And I am so grateful for that.

Breaking up still hurt like hell, of course. My heart fucking HURT. My stomach felt even more terrible, like it was filled with acid. I would think about the good times we had together, the sex, the little in-jokes we had. Even the briefest thoughts I had of him resulted in my sobbing. Even on the phone with my mom or sister I would break down, unable to speak. I slept poorly and was arriving to work at insanely early hours. Eating was a joke, I felt nauseous after a few bites of anything. After about five days of crying jags, I got sick of it. I hated how the thought of him was making MY life unbearable even after I kicked him out of it.

What did I do? I became a Yes Woman. Any event or hanging out my friends asked me to do, I said "Yes" to, even if I was feeling tired or anti-social. I filled my time with going to bars, playing kickball, playing soccer (even though I had never played a day in my adult life), going to the farmer's market, going to the mall, sitting in their apartments and watching tv, everything. I was constantly doing things, and meeting new friends through these activities. For example, my closest friends now are from school, but also through soccer, which I would not have joined if I hadn't joined a kickball team first.

Six months later, my heart still stings a little. But when it does, I think about the friendships I have resumed and worked hard to re-cultivate, the events and things I do that I would have never done if we were still together, I know I'm in a much better place. Yes, I still react when I think about him or us, but instead of my heart seizing, it only twinges and instead of my stomach feeling full of acid, it's just mild indigestion. With time and occupying that time with activities and friends, he no longer occupies my thoughts as much as he did.

We deserve to love people who love us in return, and who are willing to work to get to that level. You sound like a smart young woman who did the right thing by breaking up with someone who does not appreciate you. That's the first step. The second is to stick to that and focus on yourself. Take care of yourself, be with friends, take yourself on mini-adventures and try new things, even if they are the most minor like taking that underwater basket weaving class you've always wanted to do. It's not just about letting the time pass in order to heal, but about what you do with that time. Good luck.
posted by mlo at 10:03 AM on November 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


That wall of text was mine not too long ago. Good for you for getting out of something that was wearing you down! I wish I had done so sooner.

The next weeks and even months are going to suck. Sorry, but it's true. You can prolong the suck by questioning your decision over and over again, and talking to him and seeing him. You can staunch the flow of suck by cutting him out. Seriously, out of sight is out of mind. Your mind is probably running a mile a minute, and if you have to deal with him and manage his expectations of you, you'll burn and/or freak out in no time. Simplify and take care of you. He's his own problem now.

If it's at all feasible, I would move. I'm finally getting out of the apt I shared with my ex for 2.5 years next weekend and I. can't. wait.

Be prepared to miss a lot of things. I miss the person my ex was, and the idealized person I sometimes convinced myself he was. I miss the day to day comfort and security of a long term relationship, and the vaguely defined future that included him. I miss the person I was when I was happy with him.

But there's a lot of potential for greatness too. You get to rediscover who you are, and build the life you want. All those parts of ourselves that get subsumed in all but the very best relationships? Let them out again! Figure out what matters to you, what things you didn't do because he didn't like them. Look up friends you've lost or decreased contact with, they'd love to have you back!

Three months after the breakup of a 5+ year relationship, I can't believe how excited I am for life. There's even a new guy buzzing around, who thinks all those parts of myself I denied before are pretty much the best things ever.

One foot in front of the other. An hour at a time, then a day, then a week. You'll do fine.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:24 AM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


thanks guys i really appreciate it all. it does help to hear that other people have gone through it and come out the other side ok, so even if your story is pretty much the same as someone elses, it helps me to hear it. i want to hear it. right now the hardest part is just eating, i forced myself to swallow a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter just now but it was all i could stomach. but i figure if i can only eat a couple bites of anything at a time it might as well be full of calories/ remotely nutritious
posted by lblair at 10:35 AM on November 19, 2010


i tried to be forgiving because i am convinced he is depressed and dealing with quite a lot of shit on his own plate- but he's been resistant to my suggestions that he needs to talk to a doctor or therapist.

Huge red flag. It’s not you, or even necessarily him, it’s the depression. Depression destroys relationships. He needs help, and you can’t be the one to give it to him. In fact, staying with him will enable this behavior. He likely won’t seek help until he has to. Breaking up with him is kind in this situation. Clinical depression and a relationship never help each other and he should focus on the former before the latter.

we're both 27. I've had serious relationships before and lived with people before. He's had some relationships but nothing too serious and never lived with anybody. I definitely feel like this is the first time either of us has been in love and our bond is strong. So . . . where the hell do i go from here?

Another red flag. Do you remember being a relationship noob? You remember believing the romantic movies and not really knowing how reality would line up with expectations? He’s still in that place. It takes one LTR to really have it sink in that relationships don’t magically fix your other life problems and all of them take work, IME. He hasn’t gotten there yet, you have.

I oscillate back and forth between thinking "just move on and you'll find someone better" (but then I feel sickened by the idea of being with a guy who isn't him)

Your head is right but so is your gut. You will move on and find someone better, but it will take time for that “sick” feeling in your stomach to go away. This is natural and part of the healing/grieving process. Give it time.

"things will work out this is just a rough patch" (but that seems like dangerous thinking too, i mean, obviously this relationship is not healthy, is it?)

Yes, it is unhealthy. You did the right thing. Stay strong. Sending mixed messages will not be kind to him or to you. He doesn’t know what he wants- if he were in a stronger place he would have the self-respect to not want to be with someone he was making miserable, and he would work on getting help for his depression. Consider that it’s his desperation talking and you won’t be doing anyone any favors by giving in.
posted by Nixy at 10:40 AM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Feelings are feelings. They are not necessarily signals that you need to change your behavior.

Back in the days when women had their feet bound, unbinding would cause terrible pain at first, so many women went back to binding. Other women just toughed it out. Still other women took steps to support their feet in healing, finding healthier alternatives to the binding that still eased the pain.

I think the metaphor is pretty obvious, yes?
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:57 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You did the right thing. It is human nature to want to cling to what is familiar and known, and to fear change and new things - fight it and you will find someone much nicer who treats you a lot better.
posted by meepmeow at 11:06 AM on November 19, 2010


I dunno, why couldn't counseling help in this situation? If everything is working in your relationship except how to have a conversation about problems, a trained third party can certainly help.
posted by parallax7d at 11:25 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


it's been a week and i can't think clearly at all, i sleep and cry and feel like shit and miss him like crazy and my whole being is screaming at me that i made a mistake even though- like i said, in my brain, i think i did the right thing.

You did do the right thing. Breaking up SUUUUCKS, even if you're the one who did it. You feel like you're going to effing DIE and the world isn't the same how can everyone not realize how much everything is terrible. And oh my god, it sucks. It sucks it sucks it sucks. Eventually it will suck less. Everyone keeps saying "time" and "space" because it's true.

I apologize for not having a more eloquent answer, but yeah. Time and space. If not for you, you owe it to him to give him space so he can go through the phase of suck and come out on the other end (it sounds like he's still in the "maybe this can work out!" phase.)
posted by AlisonM at 11:58 AM on November 19, 2010


You have done such a brave and mature thing by recognizing the problems in your relationship, trying to address them, and finally breaking things off when your partner was unhelpful. Many, many people never reach this level of self-awareness and go through life in unhappy, unsatisfying relationships. And that's so sad! There is so much love out there in the world waiting for you!

i can't stop dwelling on this fantasy where he decides that losing me is the worst thing ever, and he suddenly overcomes all his problems and comes back to me and wants to make things work.
It is a very attractive fantasy, to be sure, but it will never happen. People do not make sudden, drastic personality changes, unless they've had brain trauma. He will not change his behavior without months or years of dedicated work. And he would have to be willing to do that work--which clearly he is not or he would have begun it when you brought it up with him the first, second, whatever time. So when you find yourself caught in that fantasy, shut it down. It's not real, and it will never be real. That's sad, and you have a right to mourn that loss. Don't trick yourself into avoiding it.

Good luck to you; I'm sorry that you are feeling so bad right now, but it will get better day by day. Like everyone else has so wisely said, keep busy and be with friends & family.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 12:14 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Read your update.

You are making yourself sick with grief so that you can justify going back to him. I know it feels like you can't control the way you feel, but really, you're making this way worse than it needs to be.

WHY?

I think it was incredibly honest of you to admit that you "don't know what a normal healthy relationship looks like." And guess what? If you make yourself so sick with grief that your only relief will be to take this guy back - Hey! - you won't have to find out how to be in a good relationship. Whew! Won't that be a relief!!

Fuck this guy. It's not about him, it's about you.

You've already identified (I hope) that someone worth the effort doesn't treat you as poorly as you described in your ask. My suggestion is that you stop treating yourself poorly in this guy's absence, accept that you are making the right choice here, and then start acting like it's the right choice.

Go to therapy. Go for a walk in nature. Don't watch TV for a while. Read books about self-empowerment or frivolous subjects you enjoy... do anything but allow yourself to ruminate. DO STUFF THAT REINFORCES THE POSITIVE CHOICE YOU MADE.


Get therapy to help process this relationship so that you never ever ever end up in another one like it.
posted by jbenben at 12:32 PM on November 19, 2010


Weed really helped me eat and sleep and function after a recent breakup. I'd lost 10+ pounds in a week, lightheaded, not sleeping. Smoking got me to eat some food, take my mind off for a few hours, and be basically sociable.

Your mileage may vary.

Keep in mind, too, that this is an actual withdrawal that you're having, in the sense that you had chemicals in your brain that are no longer there. It's an actual physical thing that hurts and is very unpleasant but over time your brain readjusts and you're better. So don't worry about being rational or convincing yourself of anything, just worry about getting through the day in a basically healthy and functional way.

You sound like you're doing great so far--keep it up, I know you'll do fine.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2010


I found a website that was EXTRAORDINARILY helpful to me when I was going through exactly what you are going through. You are not alone!

Go to baggagereclaim.co.uk and take a few days to read it all. You will feel so validated. MeFiMail me if you like. I have "been there" many times and learned some invaluable lessons.
posted by xenophile at 1:55 PM on November 19, 2010


Also, this. A thousand times.

if he were in a stronger place he would have the self-respect to not want to be with someone he was making miserable, and he would work on getting help for his depression. Consider that it’s his desperation talking and you won’t be doing anyone any favors by giving in.
posted by xenophile at 1:59 PM on November 19, 2010


Sorry, really should have previewed but I was so psyched about introducing you to Baggage Reclaim.

Regarding weed therapy: Everyone's body processes MJ differently, and as it's still (sadly) unregulated you never know if you're getting the chronic, the skunk, or the oregano. Red sinsemilla and green have differing effects too.

I personally would not recommend it. For me, it brings on paranoia and excessive beanplating. I would stay stone, cold SOBER.
posted by xenophile at 2:12 PM on November 19, 2010


Romantic love affects the brain like a cocaine addiction (seriously, it lights up the same parts, activates the same neurotransmitters, etc.).

Just like you wouldn't expect a cocaine addict to just get over their addiction without any pain, you should expect to go through a lot of pain and urges to reunite with the person you broke up with,

Similarly, this pain and these urges will also fade over time like how withdrawal symptoms to substance addiction fade over time. Take it one day at a time!
posted by Jacqueline at 8:05 PM on November 19, 2010


Don't worry so much about what you eat. When I was going through it, I somehow survived on one meager meal a day because it was all I could force down. Eat what you can and don't worry about it. Your appetite will return. If all you can eat right now is ice cream or those 2 spoons of peanut butter, it's okay. Hang in there.

Sleep when you can. I was living with 3 roommates and cried in the shower a lot in hopes that it masked the sound. Get into a new TV show. Lavish affection on your dog. Be sad. Get angry. List all his annoying quirks you won't have to deal with anymore (yay!). Be gentle with yourself. Healing takes time. You deserve that time.
posted by heatherann at 10:15 AM on November 21, 2010


i want a guy who loves me, isnt afraid to say so, does nice things, respects my opinion, works through issues with me in a calm and rational way.

This is the bare minimum requirement for a healthy relationship, once you get past casual dating/sex. And even then I'd only drop the first two requirements for any dudes you get casually involved with - basic respect, niceness and rationality are good qualities for all occasions!

It's not an unreasonable, out-of-reach goal to want this for yourself, and there are plenty of guys out there who can manage it. For a real long-lasting love, you need an additional amount of laughs and fun and shared goals, but what you've listed should be your new standard for even *thinking* about getting serious about a guy.

Your ex was unable to meet the minimum standard, so no matter how nice a guy he is when he's not depressed or angry or defensive, he's not capable of being a good boyfriend to you or anyone else. Anyone can be nice when things are going well, but the real test is when things are going badly. You can look back on your relationship and say "well, he's got a lot of great qualities, but he's not relationship material" and know that you made the right decision.
posted by harriet vane at 4:39 AM on November 22, 2010


so . . . eventually we did end up talking. to make a very long story short, in retrospect we both agree that the living situation was making things difficult. i just don't think we were ready to live together, but neither one of us wants to be broken up, either. he's actually been surprisingly understanding and receptive, much more so than i was expecting. we've been talking a lot about the things we were doing wrong and how we can make them better. we've decided to continue working on things, but while living apart. he's owned up to a lot of bad shit (particularly his behavior during fights) and wants to do better. i'm also working on some of my own over-the-top things (my obsession with planning my perfect future has a way of preventing me from going with the flow and living in the 'now' and just enjoying it.)

interestingly, though, going through this breakup/moveout has changed my perspective a lot. i used to feel very desperate and clingy towards him, like i couldn't live without him. now i feel a lot better, like- even though we ARE continuing to work on things, i no longer have this extreme fear of breaking up like i used to. the reason we have decided to keep working on it is because we both still love each other a lot and are willing to put in the work. but i've come to terms with the fact that maybe at some point one of us won't be in love anymore, or willing to keep working on it, and when that day comes i'll be ready to move on. i've become comfortable with the potential outcome of us breaking up and me dating someone else, which used to be super scary to me. so i think that was a good outcome of all this. but at this point, all the things that were problems before, we are making a conscious effort to tackle now, and it feels good. i think we got so stuck in a rut where our lives revolved around each other that we forgot to focus on ourselves . . . now that we are living apart we are trying to establish a more healthy balance between our time together and our time spend doing our individual things. whether it ends up working out or not, i don't think i'll be able to truly break up with him unless i'm not in love with him anymore. but i think not living together is giving us a healthier perspective on everything and i think we'll be able to grow from here. and hell, if it doesn't work out, at least we've already done the hard part (moving out.) along the same lines, now that we don't have the whole 'let's not rock the boat because breaking up and moving out will be a hassle' hanging over our heads, i think we can be more honest about stuff.
posted by lblair at 6:47 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


ok so i felt this deserved an update, i didn't want to leave it sounding like i just got back with him and things were great.

when i 'took him back' deep down i knew it wouldn't really work. i think i just did it because i was literally unable to function in the wake of the breakup and i thought taking him back would be the only way to get through my finals, and be able to eat, and sleep, etc. in the short term it did work and for a few weeks things were good, he was on his best behavior but . . . i knew right away it wasn't going to work in the end. it was over. about a month and change after i posted that update, i broke up with him for good. it was hard, again. but not quite as hard as it was the first time. i think the act of breaking up and making him move out, while i was still in love with him, and with my self esteem basically smashed to bits by him- it was more than i could cope with. physically and mentally. it wasn't fun to drag it out and do it twice the way i did but i think that was the only way i could force myself through it. it was messy and shitty and my heart broke, but i did it.

it's been about four months now and it's still hard but i'm doing reasonably better. i blocked his emails early on. what i wish i would have done is blocked his phone number right off the bat. i didn't, because i didn't know how, or didn't think he'd keep texting me (he did, like every 2-3 weeks, every time i thought he wouldn't again he did.) recently, just when i was starting to feel ok, he texts me out of the blue to tell me he has a new girlfriend. god, that made me feel horrible. and hurt. and angry. so i finally blocked his number. i should have done it a long time ago. i moved, too, out of our previously shared apartment. that was the right thing to do. at first i hated the idea of giving up our 'great' apartment, but nothing about it was worth living with the ghosts and bad karma of that horrible relationship. i moved to a new place and got rid of every last thing that reminded me of him, even non-sentimental things like kitchen utensils and food that he'd left behind. it may seems extreme but i felt so much better once all those things were out of my sight. i am finally in a space that's free of him, with the unfortunate exception of occasional bad memories and freaky dreams. and i know i'm better for it but it does still hurt. it's not as bad as it was, though. you guys were all right. all that helps is time. i wish it took less time, but still, i'm in a different world now than i was four months ago. so thanks to everyone, and i hope other people can take comfort in my experience. although it was unbelievably hard and tore me up for what felt like forever after i did it- everyone was right that i did the right thing. i'm so glad to finally be free from that situation.
posted by lblair at 8:57 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


when i 'took him back' deep down i knew it wouldn't really work.

I kind of got that impression from your first update - it sounded like you were looking for the positives and wanting to make it work, but you were also imagining what it would be like to not have him too. Preparing yourself, in a way.

Sometimes people have to really be certain that things aren't good before we're ready to move on. It seems like this was one of those times :) You probably should have blocked his number, but now you'll know for next time you have to break up with someone. Hopefully there won't be a next time, but if there is, you can be confident that you will cope with it just like you have this time. You're stronger than you realise - I'm positive that in time you'll be able to look back on this as educational, or even be able to joke about it. Good luck!
posted by harriet vane at 12:59 AM on May 30, 2011


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